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Sale Creek softball coach Clifford Kirk collapsed along the third-base line during the seventh inning of Wednesday night's Region 3-A high school championship game against Whitwell.
As Kirk stepped from the third-base coach's box to motion toward a runner on second base, he stumbled and fell onto the field. Several fans rushed onto the field to roll him over onto his back and begin chest compressions while they awaited paramedics.
Paramedics arrived within minutes and continued to administer to him. He was taken by ambulance from the field to a local hospital.
"He's responsive and talking with his wife in ICU," Sale Creek principal Tobin Davidson said at 11 p.m. "We've been told it was a heart attack, but he seems to be doing better, praise God.
"These girls look at him like a father figure. They love him. This is unbelievable."
Kirk was hired to take over at Sale Creek last October, just four months after retiring as Soddy-Daisy's coach. During his legendary 26-year career with the Lady Trojans, Kirk never had a losing record. He won eight Class AAA state championships at Soddy-Daisy, including last season, and finished runner-up three times. Before coaching at Soddy-Daisy, he won two state titles at Hixson and has more than 925 career wins.
Wednesday's game against Whitwell was suspended with the score 1-1 in the seventh inning. Whitwell coach Grace Pickett said they would be told by the TSSAA when the game would be completed.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...